Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Milestones and Comments

Dr. Charles has done a terrific job on the 100th edition of Grand Rounds. I'm honored to be included!

And I had some kind of coming-of-age myself yesterday, when I received my first really nasty blog comment: someone who identifies as Catholic responding to my Gormless Medical Brigade post to say, among other things, that any doctor who believes that a woman has an STD is entitled to look down on her.

Let me just say that none of my Catholic friends would share that viewpoint.

And let us pray most devoutly that this visitor, who came here via last week's Grand Rounds, isn't a medical caregiver.

This is why I moderate comments, even though I might get more if I didn't. As far as I'm concerned, the blog is the cyber-equivalent of my living room, and I'm not going to leave the door open for anyone to walk in and trash the furniture.

I thought for a while about how to moderate that comment. I could have rejected it, of course, except that I also believe in the First Amendment, and the post does raise some important issues. (So far, the only comments I've rejected are outright spam.) I thought for a while about incorporating it into an actual post to address those issues, but that would be giving it too much weight. So I finally decided to accept it and respond to it with a comment of my own. I doubt that the visitor -- who chose to remain anonymous -- will be back to read my response, although I'd love to be wrong about that. But I'm still getting hits from last week's Grand Rounds, and this way, anyone who cares enough to read the comments will be able to read that one and see what I said.

Gary and my friend Lee think I did a good job responding. My basic point was that shame is bad medicine (not to mention bad religion). With STDs, there's also a public-health issue. Patients who feel humiliated won't return for treatment, which is bad news for their partners. This is why San Francisco has a free health clinic for sex workers, so those women and men can receive nonjudgmental, caring medical treatment in an environment where they feel safe.

I'm sure my Catholic commenter would be scandalized by the very idea, but I strongly suspect that Jesus thoroughly approves.


The Catholic commenter came back and posted a very thoughtful and respectful response, to which I've now responded. I'm delighted that my assumptions about this person have been proven wrong, and that we seem to be having an actual conversation. How refreshing, especially in cyberspace!


  1. Anonymous7:56 PM

    "Judge not, that you be not judged." (Mt. 7:1) is the Jesus quote which springs immediately to mind. And Jesus was known for fellowship with and welcoming sinners, outcasts, and the rejected of society. I'm Catholic, and I believe that following Jesus means not to be judgemental, but rather to repond to everyone with radical love and compassion.

    My name is Kristen, and I've come to your blog through Livejournal. My brother ("baldanders" on Livejournal) set up the Livejournal feed, and recommended it. It took me a few days of asking myself, "Why does the name 'Susan Palwick' sound so familiar?" to remember that my brother had also given me your first book -Flying in Place- and told me that it was the book he was the most proud of having done the copy-editing on. (His name is Soren de Selby, if that means anything to you, and "back in the day" he did freelance editing for TOR and some others.)

    Anyway, that's who I am. I enjoy reading and thinking about your posts. And I wanted to assure you (although I'm sure that you already know) that "Catholic" does not mean "rigid and judgmental."

  2. Hi, Kristen! Delighted to meet you! I hope you'll come back and comment often! (And yes, I know Soren; I commented on his LJ just this morning. He and I go way back!)

    And yes, I know Catholic doesn't mean "rigid and judgmental." I agree fully with the theology you've described here; so would my spiritual director, who's a 65-year-old Carmelite nun who skis and snowboards and votes Democratic. (Watch those stereotypes crash and burn!)

    But please see my addendum to this post. I, too, erred in judging the commenter, who came back and posted a very thoughtful response to my response.

    Mea culpa! We're indeed all sinners, yes? Which is why it's so good that our God is one of radical love and compassion!


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